Friday, June 22, 2007


So I'm recovering from implant surgery quite nicely, I think. Dental implant surgery that is.

As many of my friends and family know, I've been dealing with short roots in my front teeth since I turned 18. Dentists have been giving me temporary fixes for the last 10 years in the form of ceramic bars and metal retainers, trying to save my real teeth from falling out for as long as possible. For the last three years, I've been fighting off infection on one of the front teeth (tooth #9 for those in the know). This last year it got so bad that I finally had to face the issue. The tooth had absessed. The root was infected, as well as the surrounding bone. My choice was root canal, which would again be only a temporary fix and would perhaps "fail" (I don't really want to know what that means), or have the unstable tooth pulled and eventually replaced by an implant.

Dental implants are also a tricky business, especially in "the aesthetic region." Done wrong, you have a screwed up smile for life. And a lot of things could go wrong - the implant could be placed improperly, the implant could be rejected, the tissue could recede, not to mention bad looking prosthetics. Apparently my situation was especially tricky because the hardest implant situation is two teeth, in the front, right next to each other.

Luckily I live in lovely Los Angeles, where beauty is a top priority, and is, coincidentally, where all the great cosmetically minded health professionals reside. After a number of consultations, I decided on the oral surgeon that I considered to be the best in implant surgery and the prosthedontist that I thought would do the best job making my fake teeth look as natural as possible.

So the steps have been long and drawn out for these implants. The doctors I chose decided that the best course of action to replace my front teeth and preserve my gumline was to do the implants one at a time. So in January, I had my infected tooth pulled and a bone graft to replace the bone that had been eaten away. My prosthedontist put a fixed provisional prosthesis in to preserve the gumline while the bone graft set. No one noticed that it was a fake tooth at all. This week, I went back for the implant placement. That was an actual surgery, unlike the pulling of my tooth and the bone graft five months ago. My prosthedontist decided a week before the surgery that he needed to do an immediate load of a provisional crown while the implant healed to preserve the gumline. This tooth doesn't look as natural, mainly because it's designed to get absolutely no impact whatsoever from the surrounding teeth.

I feel like someone broke the front part of my jaw -- like I fell and hit my front teeth on something hard. The antibiotics are unsettling on the digestive system, and I'm still feeling sluggish -- probably also due to the antibiotics. Now to wait until the implant sets before moving on to the next tooth. My hope is that when they pull tooth #8 there will be enough bone there to place the implant right away. For now, I'm just focusing on healing and moving on.